OITA, 30 Sep - All Blacks coach Steve Hansen has hailed Japan’s magnificent victory over Ireland as "great for rugby" and has been so impressed by the speed of the Brave Blossoms' attacking that he is not sure his world champions could play at that pace.
Hansen, talking after unveiling the New Zealand team to face Canada in Oita on Wednesday, paid a glowing tribute to the hosts and the fifth-gear manner in which they dismantled the world’s second-ranked side in Shizuoka.
The man who masterminded the All Blacks' RWC 2015 triumph said that his team could learn a thing or two from the breathless and inventive nature of the Japanese attacking.
"We'd be very silly if we didn't because they did plenty to give us to think about," said Hansen on Monday. "Their speed of ball was great, their line speed awesome, they just kept coming, time after time after time.
"They showed a lot of courage, intent and a lot of skill, so hats off to them. It was a really great performance and one the whole of Japan should be proud of.
"We like to play fast. I don't know if we want to play that fast - or if we can play that fast. In the humidity, it certainly affected the Irish, that speed of the game."
Hansen felt "you wouldn’t get a better game of rugby" than the Shizuoka classic. Watching on television, he saw ecstatic crowds still celebrating in the stands long after the final whistle.
"That's just great for the little kids here who want to play the game and, overall, great for rugby."
The victory has made the prospect of an All Blacks versus Japan quarter-final a strong possibility. Hansen shrugged when asked what the outcome of that game might be.
"Each game has its own life. You can play the same opposition a number of times and the games be so different."
Certainly, Hansen knows the prowess of Japan's attack after, remarkably, they scored five tries against a largely second-string All Blacks team in Tokyo last November, pictured above. Still, the All Blacks proved dominant that day, scoring 10 of their own to win 69-31.
Japan's famous win also boosted the profile of 49-year-old Jamie Joseph, the tough flanker who played for both the All Blacks and Japan and who has done such a fine job coaching the Brave Blossoms that his name has been bandied about as a possible successor to Hansen after he gives up the role post-tournament.
"Jamie Joseph’s a very good coach. He didn't become one overnight just because he coached Japan to beat Ireland," Hansen said.
"I always find it amusing, you beat someone and all of a sudden you're a super coach. I hold the world record for the most losses in a row and the world record for the most wins in a row, so what sort of coach am I?
"Coaching's a lot more than just the results. Is he good enough to be an All Blacks coach? I think he is one day, I do. Am I picking the next coach? No. So there's not much point even asking what my opinion is because those people who are appointing him won't take any notice of it anyway, and probably rightly so."